TSA security breach: 'This can't happen again'

Security at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport came under the microscope on Tuesday after a series of Fox 9 News reports uncovered multiple security breaches involving the TSA in recent weeks.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission is seeking answers, and a 20-year flight attendant who chronicled his in-flight adventures in the book "Attitudes at Every Altitude" told Fox 9 News they have an awful lot to consider after two passengers were able to sneak by a TSA agent and board a plane simply by walking in through an exit.

"It's just amazing that something like that could happen," Gregg Proteaux said.

After waiting in line and clearing security, it's not hard to imagine why the two travelers would want to sneak back in after leaving the terminal to have a cigarette. That said, it's alarming to know that they were able to slip past a preoccupied TSA agent and re-enter what's known as the "sterile" part of the airport without having their bags, or themselves, checked again -- especially for people like Proteaux. In fact, he told Fox 9 News that serious breaches like the kind that occurred on Saturday stand as a sobering reminder of why the TSA exists.

"We rely on them, and this is fearful for crew members when we're up there at 38,000 feet," he explained.

Saturday wasn't the first screw-up at the airport either. Last October, a 9-year-old Minneapolis boy got by security and on a flight to Las Vegas without ever having a ticket. Earlier this month, a 22-year-old Orono man on a security screening list flew to Denver before the TSA realized they failed to perform additional checks before he got on board.

Yet, what shocks those who work in aviation security more than anything else is that after Saturday's major breach in security, the TSA ignored protocols that require the terminal to be cleared so all passengers can be re-screened.

"This can't happen again," Proteaux said. "Why wasn't the terminal evacuated like it was last fall? That's a mystery to me."

In a cost-cutting measure, the TSA slashed its staff by 7 percent nationwide over the past year. In fact, the TSA announced plans to stop staffing checkpoints at exits last fall; however, the plan was eventually scrapped after the agency came to an agreement with airports, many of which have had to invest in major renovations to adapt to the security requirements of a post-9/11 world. One thing that MSP International does not have is any kind of turnstile or gate that would stop or slow passengers attempting to enter through the exit.